Razer has released a number of products so far during the pandemic, but the new Kiyo Pro may have the widest appeal of them all. It’s a new $ 199 webcam that looks like a lens pulled by a mirrorless camera, with the aim of giving Logitech’s Brio good competition in the spec department. The four-year-old Brio is still the ideal choice if you appreciate 4K recording and Windows Hello authentication, but the Kiyo Pro is no slouch and can stream or record 1080p images at up to 60 frames per second, with optional HDR mode displayed at 30 frames per second. Razer’s new webcam is a more compact option, and it has a few other features that may make it worth considering if you want an advanced webcam for more than just joining Zoom calls.
Kiyo Pro is positioned as a good choice both for jumping into a meeting and for people who have hobbies or careers that send their faces. It backs up this requirement with a few features that I have been able to test in recent days. One of them is the adjustable field of view (FOV), so you can switch between 80 degrees for a tighter face crop, a mid-range 90-degree shot or up to a super-wide 1
You can adjust these settings and more from the Razer Synapse, but annoyingly, the software does not always reflect the changes I have made to the settings in the camera preview. Oddly enough, I had to participate in a Zoom conversation to see the changes take effect. I understand that there are people who do not want to bother with software, and so you know, this is a plug-and-play device for Windows 10 and macOS. That said, it will be on a fixed FOV, and the package of settings that I describe below will not be available to you unless you get Razer software.
This webcam has a 2.1 megapixel CMOS IMX327 autofocus sensor with an f / 2.0 aperture, covered by a sheet of Gorilla Glass 3, which is admittedly a strange feature for a camera that does not move. It uses Sony’s Starvis technology, commonly used in security cameras, which makes it good for picking out details in low light and balancing light sources to get a real picture. I was impressed with its ability to automatically make the awful lighting in the basement studio apartment look good, with a few small adjustments by me in the brightness and saturation departments). So I imagine that people with ideal lighting will do even better and may not need to adjust the settings at all.
During some Zoom conversations with Kiyo Pro, none of the participants were blown away by visual fidelity. However, they noticed that it is noticeably smoother and more detailed in terms of color accuracy than any portable webcam, and especially given the apartment’s lighting situation (almost all artificial lights, with little natural light coming in), my picture looked lively.
Even with a bright window behind me that is usually overexposed by just about any portable webcam, this camera balanced the light in my apartment without blowing out the background or dropping in detail. If you are a game streamer with a vibrant set of colorful LEDs set up around your rig, this feature should also be beneficial for you.
Autofocus works relatively quickly, and it did not take long to clean up the shot as I held an object close to the sensor and then pulled it away so it could focus on my face. However, autofocus tends to bounce around a lot, looking for a clearer shot even when I’m barely moving. This was perhaps the most annoying part of the experience for me, but it’s a small consolation that Synapse lets you put it on manual focus if you do not plan to move that much.
This webcam has directional microphones, but I highly recommend using a dedicated microphone or headset equipped with one instead. What’s built into the Kiyo Pro is good in a pinch, and there’s a good amount of bass and clarity in my voice, but it’s a bit quiet and echo-y by default.
Razer’s Kiyo Pro is a competent webcam with a few unique features. At $ 200, it obviously can’t compete with the credibility of an SLR or SLR camera that has been turned into a webcam or even a modern smartphone with webcam apps installed. But for the cost, it should have stacked up better than it does for Logitech’s Brio released in 2017. Instead, Razer made an equally expensive webcam with fewer features. If webcams ever become as tough to find in stock as they were in early 2020, it will be nice to have another option on the market. But at the moment it is difficult to recommend this model directly.